Status for Bucs' Wirfs likely to go down to wireTheSportsWig Admin
TAMPA, Fla. — Buccaneers All-Pro right tackle Tristan Wirfs, who suffered a right ankle sprain in Sunday’s wild-card game against the Philadelphia Eagles, is in a walking boot this week, coach Bruce Arians said Monday.
Arians added that “there’s a chance” he can play this week in the divisional round, but it will likely come down to the wire.
Wirfs suffered the injury on the opening series, when he got rolled up on blocking for running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn. Wirfs played one more snap, and as he dropped back to pass block, his foot shot up in pain.
The 2020 13th-overall pick had not missed a single snap in the regular or postseason over the last two years. He attempted to return late in the second quarter, playing three snaps before it was determined that he could not finish.
“As tough as he is, I think there’s a chance,” Arians said. “He and [center] Ryan [Jensen] will probably go all the way till Friday before we know anything true, so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Jensen suffered a left ankle sprain with :28 to go in the first quarter, when he got bent backwards on Vaughn’s goal line touchdown. After limping off the field, he was able to return to finish the game, not missing a single snap.
“His mental toughness is off the charts,” Arians said. “He’s as tough a dude as there is playing this game. That thing was gonna be broken for him not to go back in.”
Arians said backup offensive tackle Josh Wells, who replaced Wirfs, played with a “pretty good” quad injury and that they’re going to have to wait and see if he’s healthy enough to play Sunday. Quarterback Tom Brady was sacked an uncharacteristic four times, after the Buccaneers’ offensive line surrendered a league-fewest 23 sacks during the regular season.
When asked about his level of concern with depth at tackle, Arians said, “Very today. Hopefully not as much Wednesday and Thursday. But very, very concerned about it today because we were gonna have to put [right guard Alex] Cappa at tackle and Aaron Stinnie at guard early in the first quarter of that game. But thank God Josh just gutted it out.”
The Bucs played without running backs Leonard Fournette, who led the Bucs in scrimmage yards last postseason, and Ronald Jones on Sunday. Arians said Jones still hasn’t been able to cut since suffering his injury in Week 17, and they’re waiting to see if Fournette can reach full speed when he runs, which he wasn’t able to do last week.
“We’ll know more Thursday with both those guys,” Arians said.
Outside linebackers Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul and inside linebacker Lavonte David all returned Sunday from injuries. Pierre-Paul and David last played in Week 15, and Barrett in Week 16. Barrett, who was dealing with a sprained ACL and MCL notched an interception off Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts in the third quarter.
All three were on a pitch count, with David, who had a sprained foot, playing 55 of the snaps (88.7%), and Barrett and Pierre-Paul, who had a torn rotator cuff he played with through most of the season, playing 28 (45.2%) and 33 (53.2%) of snaps, respectively.
Arians said, “They all played good. Shaq didn’t look hurt when he was running with that ball. Lavonte is not as sore as he thought he’d be today. JPP’s fine. They all had a good rotation going.”